What provides people with such a pride that they would murder a man over religion? What provides religion with such a strength, that it form a universal brotherhood so strong, that it might be used to justify murder? Over the last two days after seeing the Rajasthan killing, these questions have rummaged my mind and left me desperate for any sort of legible answer.
To be sure, like our nationalities, our religions are also merely the lowest common denominator. Except, because religion lives through practices and not just through legal documents, its permanence is far more fleeting that the identities that the state ‘kindly’ bestows on us.
Religion is this transience that somehow has created murder after murder, massacre after massacre. Hate crimes in the USA alone have been raised by 91% in this first half of the year, compared to last year. In our own ‘beloved’ nation, the hate crimes have led to killing of children, of men, and ultimately to yesterday. In any other episode in history, yesterday would have been a culmination. Ashes from dead bodies are known to create fertile lands for revolution, still. However, this is not new – this has been happening all over the world and yet, there has been silence staring it in its face. In the face of ruthless violence around the world, it appears that the religious have retreated into their temples, mosques and churches, only to come out when they have to scream against apparent opponents. These are signs of the terminally ill, and not warm blooded people who can bring forth change.
Yet, what gives these people permission? What gives cadence to the rising forces of hate bubbling under this apparently ‘peaceful’ garb of religion? One answer might lie in the state itself. From a lackluster statement on ‘Gau Rakshaks’ to trying to distance himself from hate crimes, Modi’s position seems to be mostly unclear on the issue. This creates an environment of gray permissibility, which the state can distance itself from while nodding its head silently, in unison. This is comparable to the fact that the alt-right has created an increasingly harsh condition on the internet for the left leaning people, and yet, with the silence of the state on the matter, and their endorsement on alt-right-ers like Steve Bannon, the Trump administration gives a nod to the people.
This is why, quite egregiously the murderer in Rajasthan’s case can declare with pride that he has not committed any crime. For him, the state has created permissibility. We need to fight this.
There are larger factors at work here, what we see in a transient philosophy causing the emboldenment of men who desire to kill for the sake of their identity. There are those who believe their need for conforming to certain written identity, pushed onto them by the society is greater than the need of another person to protect their body. Is this the state that India signed up for? Democracy shall remain hollow if our state protects us only through vague phrases and wordings.
So, let us bind together, let us heed this clarion call. The dead ash from the construction site might create a fertile land for us all.